Friday, October 05, 2007

Bush, Torture, Secrets

It is a very bad thing to have airplanes used as weapons to kill over 3,000 people in America, a horrifying and terrific shock to the system. While it is understandable that some people's thinking and emotions would go off the deep end, it was even more horrifying to find that the DOJ in the person of Mr Yoo would send a memo out condoning torture. Finally in 2004 the weight of public, international, Congressional, and Supreme Court disapproval resulted in BushCo making a public statement that "torture is abhorrent," and the closing of CIA foreign black detention facilities.

That abhorrence didn't last long, the NYT says that in 2005 shortly after he took over at DOJ, Albie put the US right back on that track, issuing in secret an expansive document approving the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the CIA, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures. Since many in the US completely disapprove:

Later that year, as Congress moved toward outlawing “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment, the Justice Department issued another secret opinion, one most lawmakers did not know existed, current and former officials said. The Justice Department document declared that none of the C.I.A. interrogation methods violated that standard.

The classified opinions, never previously disclosed, are a hidden legacy of President Bush’s second term and Mr. Gonzales’s tenure at the Justice Department, where he moved quickly to align it with the White House after a 2004 rebellion by staff lawyers that had thrown policies on surveillance and detention into turmoil.

VP Cheney and his counsel David Addington found a willing foil in Gonzales for their belief that nothing should stand in the way of their idea of security, not the Supremes, not Congress, not the nation, and certainly not international opinion.

After the Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the Geneva Conventions applied to prisoners who belonged to Al Qaeda, President Bush for the first time acknowledged the C.I.A.’s secret jails and ordered their inmates moved to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The C.I.A. halted its use of waterboarding, or pouring water over a bound prisoner’s cloth-covered face to induce fear of suffocation.

But in July, after a monthlong debate inside the administration, President Bush signed a new executive order authorizing the use of what the administration calls “enhanced” interrogation techniques — the details remain secret — and officials say the C.I.A. again is holding prisoners in “black sites” overseas. The executive order was reviewed and approved by Mr. Bradbury and the Office of Legal Counsel.
The Office of Legal Counsel is supposed to eliminate the need for an advocate in the DOJ and supply law based opinion. This same Steven G Bradbury has stated, "In my experience, the White House has not told me how an opinion should come out, the White House has accepted and respected our opinions, even when they didn’t like the advice being given.” considering the secrecy, we may be supposed to take his word for it, though it may be a secret from the White House that they've ever been thwarted by DOJ.

Not too surprisingly, CIA officers were worried by all these new found intelligence gathering techniques, questions began to pour into the legal office of the CIA, was "this" ok, was co-mingling these techniques alright, horror piling on horror needed approval. The problems began, even tough Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was broken with the enhanced interrogation techniques but much of the information gleaned proved exaggerated or false. The interrogators were marginally familiar with the torture, mostly gained from study of Soviet techniques and military interrogation resistance programs and not at all familiar with KSM's culture and background - incompetence at work. (thankfully Americans seemed to prove incompetent at torture) It is a fairly simple prospect to understand the untrustworthiness of information gained by putting a person in the position of wanting badly to please his interrogators, saying whatever seemed necessary to stop the torture.

It seems ludicrous to be writing an article about torture, something I neither understand nor condone, but to be writing an article protesting US torture is something out of the Twilight Zone, beyond anger, into stupefaction. I have not been enough places to qualify a statement that this is the best country in the world, but I certainly understood that our practices qualified us as a light to the world - that light seems to have gone out. I wonder how many administrations, how many decades, how many losses it will take for this country to undo the harm George II has done. I am also afraid of what lengths some of those running for president might this to. There are authoritarians running and they actually have a chance (or better).

I've seen this country engage in massive stupidity and studied even more that I haven't experienced but I am astonished at what 7 years of BushCo have accomplished at setting the bar extremely high for incompetence and Constitutional wreckage. The truly frightening aspect is that this is only the part we know about, these people classify at whim, to cover obvious stupidity and criminality, what else is hidden? The NYT has done a service here, their reportage deserves your read - and hit rates, give them a look.


KISS said...

And than there is " The College OF The Americas", next door to Fort Benning, Georgia, where torture and its' refinements have been taught for decades, even a law was passed that protesting within so many feet is jail time, and a Nun holds the honor of being first arrested. So, really what is new?

Chuck Butcher said...

Things just keep getting stranger and stranger in the good ole USA. So, we stand up and complain, which beats insurrection as a tactic for the general good.